How to Effectively Manage a Multigenerational Workforce in the Federal Government
Four generations working toward a common goal
Federal leaders should invest in developing a generationally diverse talent pool to reap the benefits of the multigenerational workforce. With four generations — Veterans, Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials — currently in the workforce, each with different perspectives and traits, it is not uncommon for government managers to adapt their management style to their own generation, rather than fully consider how to manage within a multigenerational workforce. Two-thirds of HR professionals report some degree of intergenerational conflict in their organizations, but only one-third say their organizations actively work to reduce generational frictions.1 While the generations do have different formative life events, styles, and beliefs, these differing characteristics need not create tensions that stymie government managers’ mission success.
On the contrary, all four generations are looking for the same thing in the workplace— an opportunity to serve the public interest in an engaging way, good work-life balance, and opportunities to develop professionally. However, the question still remains: Even if federal workers want the same things, how can the four generations work effectively together to “do more with less”2 in today’s increasingly complex and uncertain environment? Working to answer this question benefits agencies and government workforce substantially by creating more engaged employees who are happier, more willing to collaborate, better supported in completing their work, and more effective in delivering on their agency’s mission.
The benefits are clear, but what are the key success factors agencies can use as a guide when attempting to better manage their own multigenerational workforces?
There are five guiding principles agencies should follow to improve the management of their multigenerational workforce:
- Embrace flexibility
- Foster collaboration
- Provide technology
- Develop talent
- Establish methods of evaluation
By following these principles, agency leaders can extract more value from their increasingly multigenerational workforces.
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